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utility

[yoo-til-i-tee] /yuˈtɪl ɪ ti/
noun, plural utilities.
1.
the state or quality of being useful; usefulness:
This chemical has no utility as an agricultural fertilizer.
2.
something useful; a useful thing.
3.
a public service, as a telephone or electric-light system, a streetcar or railroad line, or the like.
Compare public utility (def 1).
4.
Often, utilities. a useful or advantageous factor or feature:
the relative utilities of a religious or a secular education.
5.
Economics. the capacity of a commodity or a service to satisfy some human want.
6.
the principle and end of utilitarian ethics; well-being or happiness; that which is conducive to the happiness and well-being of the greatest number.
7.
Computers. utility program.
8.
utilities, stocks or bonds of public utilities.
9.
a grade of beef immediately below commercial.
adjective
10.
(of domestic animals) raised or kept as a potentially profitable product rather than for show or as pets:
utility breeds; utility livestock.
11.
having or made for a number of useful or practical purposes rather than a single, specialized one:
a utility knife.
12.
designed chiefly for use or service rather than beauty, high quality, or the like:
a utility vehicle; utility furniture.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English utilite < Old French utelite < Latin ūtilitās, equivalent to ūtil(is) useful (see utile) + -itās -ity
Related forms
nonutility, noun, plural nonutilities.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for utility
  • The only immediate utility of all sciences, is to teach us, how to control and regulate future events by their causes.
  • Hence this extraordinarily rich utility of machines for so extremely varied branches of industry.
  • The demand for those metals arises partly from their utility, and partly from their beauty.
  • They stink at statistics and rarely maximize utility.
  • In other words, the utility is collecting half the revenue it should from the power it supplies.
  • Scientists aren't sure, but many theories center on their utility as some form of camouflage.
  • utility companies start rolling blackouts when they do not have enough energy to meet their customers' demands.
  • Perfect for day hikes and lightweight in-a-day backcountry rambling, this load carrying marvel is utility in motion.
  • If you're renting or in a house share make sure that you've sorted out whether the rent includes utility bills or not.
  • X-acto knife because having a utility knife scares people.
British Dictionary definitions for utility

utility

/juːˈtɪlɪtɪ/
noun (pl) -ties
1.
  1. the quality of practical use; usefulness; serviceability
  2. (as modifier): a utility fabric
2.
something useful
3.
  1. a public service, such as the bus system; public utility
  2. (as modifier): utility vehicle
4.
(economics)
  1. the ability of a commodity to satisfy human wants
  2. the amount of such satisfaction See disutility
5.
(statistics)
  1. a measure of the total benefit or disadvantage attaching to each of a set of alternative courses of action
  2. (as modifier): utility function See also expected utility, decision theory
6.
(Austral & NZ) Also called utility truck, (informal) ute. a small truck with an open body and low sides, often with a removable tarpaulin cover; pick-up
7.
a piece of computer software designed for a routine task, such as examining or copying files
Word Origin
C14: from Old French utelite, from Latin ūtilitās usefulness, from ūtī to use
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for utility
n.

late 14c., "fact of being useful," from Old French utilite "usefulness" (late 13c.), earlier utilitet (12c.), from Latin utilitatem (nominative utilitas) "usefulness, serviceableness, profit," from utilis "usable," from uti (see use (v.)). As a shortened form of public utility it is recorded from 1930.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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utility in Technology
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Encyclopedia Article for utility

in economics, the determination of the prices of goods and services.

Learn more about utility with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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10
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